Health Reasons – Persons suffering from asthma, allergies, or other breathing impairments are often more sensitive to mold spores. Testing aids physicians attempting to isolate harmful organisms or diagnose unusual illnesses.
Buying or Selling Real Estate – When the indoor environment has been tested for mold associated with exposure related health issues, and the mold has been quantified and identified, the consumer is provided with valuable information that protects their interest in any potential liability case.
Litigation – Testing should be considered as a safeguard against personal liability and to obtain legally defensible documentation in the event that serious health concerns arise or if litigation is a realistic possibility.*
Mold requires moisture and cellulose that are foods for mold growth. Molds found on aluminum or other surfaces that do not appear to have cellulose or moisture are most likely due to the presence of house dust which can contain enough moisture and cellulose for mold to grow.
Numerous molds do not pose a health risk. However, some molds produce chemicals called mycotoxins that can cause flu-like symptoms or more severe neurological health effects. Some molds are capable of causing infections, primarily a concern for individuals whose immune system has been compromised by pre-existing illness or the medication they are taking. Clean up of mold contamination is recommended regardless of mold type and must include the elimination of the moisture source that led to the mold growth.
If you have reason to believe that you have mold inside of your wall, you will need to have the licensed assessor take an air sample. This can be taken from the interior of the wall or by removing sheet rock and inspecting inside where a sample can be taken from the exposed interior of the mold site.
Most molds are allergens to most people. Though numerous molds are harmless, the molds which produce mycotoxins are allegedly responsible for numerous health risks and/or hazards. Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to health problems associated with mold exposure. People with asthma or other respiratory challenges will be more easily affected by fewer mold spores.
Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Alternaria and all are considered toxic. Stachybotrys, Fusarium, Trichoderma produce mycotoxins easily absorbed into skin, intestinal lining, airways and lungs. Other toxic molds include Coccidioides, Histoplasma, Blastomyces, and Memnoniella.
Common molds found in buildings are Basidiospores, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium and Alternaria. The first two, Basidiospores and Cladosporium are often found at high levels outside the home, depending on weather conditions and time of day. The indoor concentrations of these spores will rise and fall tracking the outside concentrations. Cladosporium is also often associated with air conditioning systems and its only significant human health effect is allergy. Aspergillus and Penicillium are usually associated with mold growth on drywall and/or structural wood. These molds can produce mycotoxins, but their greatest health concern is for infection in immune compromised individuals.
The time you are most likely to stir up spores and be exposed is the very time you are trying to clean your mold problem. This is when you need to be more careful. Be sure you are free of any health symptoms or allergies. You should consider having a professional clean the area. Otherwise, wear goggles, gloves, breathing protection, and use a solution of hydrogen peroxide. A bleach solution has been used for clean-up in the past, but hydrogen peroxide is less likely to irritate your eyes, skin and respiratory tract than chlorine bleach.
The basic rule is if you can smell odor then you need to take steps to eliminate it. The key to mold control is moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Reduce indoor humidity by venting restrooms, dryer, and exhaust fans when cooking.